Approaching customer relationships as quid pro quo arrangements does not usually result in successful relationships for the sales person trying this approach. Customers are adept at identifying the motives that a sales person brings to the table and while it is understood that everyone should be benefitting from a relationship, the customer always needs to be made to feel he or she is the most important party in order for real value to be realized. Following are guidelines for getting the most value out of your customer relationships that put the customer where he or she should be – front and center.
Always Be Honest
As the sales person, you often must take the first steps to ensure that your customer relationships are based on truth. The policy of always being honest with your customers applies even when the answer to customers is no - if a customer won't benefit from a product or service, using consultative selling means you should be honest about how or why that offering is not a fit. Customer relationships that are based on mutual honesty are always the most beneficial to all parties involved.
Thank Your Customers - And Mean It
Customers have to feel appreciated to develop loyalty and commit to the relationships that can be so valuable. Even if a product performs flawlessly without your appreciation there is no guarantee that customer relationships will remain healthy without demonstrations from your side showing how highly the customer is valued. In addition to making it a point to regularly thank your customers, show your appreciation for your customer relationships by:
- Ensuring that your customers are having a positive experience. Simply asking what they like and what they might like to see done differently shows that you are paying attention to your relationships, which is always appreciated.
- Staying in touch regularly. Even if there are no issues, customers still like to hear from you occasionally to know that their needs are being kept in mind.
- Being generous with your time. Few things mean more to your customers than letting your customers know that you are there when needed.
Under Promise and Over Deliver
It is a truism, but there is a reason that under promise and over deliver has become a concept across industries. Make sure that your promises match customer expectations, and then work to exceed those expectations to engender customer loyalty and encourage the formation of relationships so that customers learn to return to you again and again. Make this task easier for yourself by envisioning what you can accomplish for each of your customer relationships and formulating a strategy to deliver the best possible service that you can.
Consider a Customer's Lifetime Value
In order to make sure that the customer relationships that create the most value for you and your organization are serviced appropriately, it is sometimes necessary to analyze where your time is being spent on other relationships. Calculating the lifetime value of the relationships in your sales territory can help form rough guidelines for how much time you should be devoting to follow up and sales with each customer with which you work.
Note, though, that a customer's lifetime value can change. A business that is an underdog today could be the next big thing tomorrow, which can cause dramatic changes in the way that business approaches operations and change the lifetime value of such customer relationships considerably.
Nurture Your Customer Relationships
Even once a sales is concluded, it can take time for customer relationships to build value. It is up to the sales person to ensure that customer relationships reach their full potential by keeping in touch with customers, servicing their needs, and creating value for the customer before asking that the customer create further value for the sales person. By nurturing your relationships over time, you can maximize the value that you get from your customer relationships.